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The ‘Black Chic’ Wave

Andrew Gillum

With the midterm elections approaching, political pundits have begun the hackneyed ritual of predicting wild success for their preferred party—either a ‘blue wave’ for the Democrats or a ‘red wave‘ for the Republicans. Time will tell which wave reaches our political shores. But in the meantime, a different sort of wave is already upon us: a wave of black candidates who present their skin color as if it were a political credential in itself. This new wave of ‘black chic’ candidates includes Democrats Mahlon Mitchell of Wisconsin, Stacey Abrams of Georgia, Andrew Gillum of Florida, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts (featured pic, above). To observe that these candidates happen to be black would be to state an uninteresting fact. What’s interesting is that—contrary to what the concept of white privilege would predict—their blackness actually gives them political advantages.

All four candidates would be the first black governors/congress people of their respective states/districts, which allows them to project a level of historical gravitas unavailable to their white counterparts. Abrams, for instance, has “frequently noted the historic nature of her candidacy,” according to Vox. “I don’t just want to make history,” Mitchell has claimed, “I want to make it count by actually doing things that help people.” On the eve of his primary win, Gillum reminded his audience that if he won he would be “the first candidate of color ever to lead a major party in the state of Florida.” To be a black Democratic candidate in 2018 is to be seen, not just as a politician, but as the next step in the decades-long march towards racial equality.

To get a flavor of how well the ‘making history’ motif is playing in some circles, here is Shaun King of The Intercept:

What we are experiencing right now is absolutely historic. The United States does not currently have a single black governor—not one … I won’t go as far as calling this moment the new Reconstruction, but we haven’t seen the possibility of this type of political representation at the state level since the years following the Civil War.

And consider this, from an op-ed in the New York Times:

The most significant political shift in decades is happening, but it’s not Trumpism or white nationalism or corruption or even on the Right. It’s in black politics. Historic electoral wins … show the might of the black political Left.

Yet considering that we’ve already had a successful two-term black president with high approval ratings, the ‘making history’ claim rings a bit hollow at the state and district levels. The claim, however, functions less as an honest description of reality and more as a emotional transaction between voters and politicians. In this bargain, left-leaning voters get to participate in the latest battle of the War On Racism and reap all of the psychological benefits that attend this righteous struggle. On the other end of the bargain, black politicians—who are, after all, just as self-interested as politicians of any other color—get to win elections. I don’t doubt that both voters and candidates emotionally vibrate to the ‘making history’ motif. But in 2018, that motif is no longer an accurate reflection of our racial and political landscape; it is a display of ritualized anti-racism.

Not only can candidates of color ‘make history’ in a way that their white counterparts cannot, but they can also turn their melanin into money. According to Gillum’s comments in the New Yorker, the billionaire George Soros donated money to his campaign in part because Gillum was black. Here’s Gillum recounting the moment when Soros decided to back him:

Soros committed to back Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign.“If I’m remembering it correctly, it was, ‘We don’t know if you can win, but we would like what it could represent,’” Gillum said. “I interpreted it to mean that it would be significant to see a person of color taken seriously in a statewide race.”

What’s more, there is a PAC called The Collective which has raised almost a million dollars explicitly to support black candidates for public office. Since its inception in 2016, the Collective PAC “has helped 18 candidates win primary and/or general elections,” including Sen. Kamala Harris (D). On their website, the PAC endorses the reductio ad absurdum of the concept of equity by claiming that precisely 13 percent of American politicians should be black (because blacks make up 13 percent of the general population.) They’ve even converted that percentage into raw numbers. According to their math, we need exactly 275 more blacks in state legislatures, 43 more in statewide offices, 11 more in the House of Representatives, and 10 more in the Senate. Until those numbers are reached, money will continue to flow to politicians with the right amount of melanin—including Gillum and Abrams, both of whom are supported in part by the Collective PAC.

Stacey Abrams

A PAC explicitly dedicated to electing white politicians would be unthinkable—or if such a PAC did exist, then all reasonable people would be in general agreement about how to view such a racialist project. Yet a PAC dedicated to electing black politicians can be mentioned in the New York Times without so much as a hint of disapproval. Of course, it’s not the same. Whites were not enslaved, subjected to lynching, redlining, and various other instruments of racial terror. But then again, neither were Mitchell, Abrams, Gillum, and Pressley, who were all born in the 1970s, and thus know more about affirmative action and diversity initiatives than they do about the middle passage or segregated water fountains.

What I’m getting at is this: How long does the fact that one’s ancestors suffered grave injustices give one the right to engage in behaviors that, in any other context, would be viewed as unethical?

Ultimately, the black chic wave says more about the changing beliefs of voters than it does about the changing ethics of politicians. Not long ago, a black candidate would have had to play down the significance of their identity and instead emphasize a color-blind universalist ethic in order to win a Democratic primary. It was Barack Obama, for instance, who said in 2004, “There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America—there’s the United States of America.” Today the winning strategy for left-wing candidates is to do the opposite: to play up your blackness, your immigrantness, your womanhood, your queerness—anything that puts distance between you and the moral abyss of the straight white male.

Rhetoric once seen as fringe, counter-cultural, and rebellious is now successfully deployed in the mainstream by candidates seeking to energize their voter bases. Consider the reception Ayanna Pressley received when she invoked the concept of ‘systemic inequality’ on the congressional campaign trail in Boston:

“This is not just about resisting and affronting Trump,” she declared, garbed in a flowing red jumper. “Because the systemic inequalities and disparities that I’m talking about existed long before that man occupied the White House!” The crowd went wild (emphasis mine).

Not long ago, using rhetoric straight out of an African American studies course would have been political suicide for a Democrat in Boston. But last week, using such rhetoric, Pressley pulled off an impressive upset against Rep. Michael Capuano (D)—a white 10-term congressman whose politics were just as progressive as her own. According to Pressley’s comments in the Times, what distinguished her from Capuano was not her politics per se but her “political style and attitude”; in other words, black chic.

Mahlon Mitchell

In Wisconsin, Mitchell has used his blackness to gain the political upper hand as well. According to Vox, he has “ramped up his discussions of race as he’s made his pitch to voters.” In a strange reversal of white privilege, Mitchell told Vox, “I actually think being African-American helps me.” Considering the gravitas, the money, and the moral authority that comes with being a black candidate on the Left in 2018, Mitchell’s statement—as backwards as it may seem in the context of American history—rings true.

What has gotten lost in the midst of our identity craze is the idea that a politician’s race should not matter. Their policies should; their character should; their ethics should. But the amount of melanin in their skin is as irrelevant to their political competence as it would be to a surgeon’s medical competence. As the Jim Crow era recedes further into history, the level of significance that we invest in racial identity should not be increasing; it should be decreasing.

Perfect color-blindness, as a matter of human psychology, is impossible. All of us notice skin color whether we want to or not. But that’s a fact about human psychology, not a guide to what ethical ideals we should encourage. By analogy, consider selflessness. Perfect selflessness is impossible. Nobody could honestly say that their level of concern for themselves is identical to their level of concern for a stranger. But we do not let that stop us from encouraging people to strive for selflessness as an ethical ideal. At minimum, we don’t encourage people to be more selfish than they otherwise would be.

What the identitarian Left has done by disparaging color-blindness as an ethical aspiration is the equivalent of encouraging us all to be more selfish. Yes, we cannot literally become color-blind. But the goal, ethically and politically, should be to discourage the kind of color-obsession that is, and will always be, seductive to members of our species. If the black chic wave is any indication, then we are failing to achieve this goal spectacularly.

 

Coleman Hughes is a Quillette columnist and an undergraduate philosophy major at Columbia University. His writing has also appeared in the Spectator, City Journal, and the Heterodox Academy blog. You can follow him on Twitter @coldxman

 

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117 Comments

  1. Pizza Pete says

    Another excellent essay from Coleman Hughes.

    Fetishizing race is a cousin to the soft bigotry of low expectations. As if black candidates for some reason shouldn’t (couldn’t) be assessed on their own merits.

    Rewarding candidates for acting out these tropes is, sigh, a degradation. There’s a pervisity in AOC running as a working class Latina from the Bronx and not what she is: a child of a successful architect who was raised in Westchester and went to a rich kids’ college. What is wrong with her fathers story of success?

    White privilege might be best defined as the entitlement that minorities will always put on the type of performance we find most satisfying, and of this the Left is most guilty.

    • The political arena may contain some exceptions, at least on the basis of elected representation. And I say that as a big fan of Sam Harris’ take on identity politics. But what the left is failing to take into account, yet again and at their peril, is the socially conservative skew of pretty much every minority class (with the probable exception of gay/trans people, and even that’s not always a given). I have zero objection to diverse representation, but what happens when their new leaders don’t share the same concern for the environment? Or gay rights? Or gun control? Or abortion? Or immigration? What happens when young white atheists elect a black Christian whose liberalism begins and ends at his/her own racial group-interest? Of course, I don’t know these specific candidates or who they stand to replace, this may or may not apply right here, but it’s guaranteed to be an issue at some point. And it suggests that the left is becoming a one-issue party, and win or lose that could be great news for the GOP.

      • Identity politics is universally a bad idea in a country that purports towards Liberty and Equal Protection, as it’s based on suggesting that some group deserves more than another which violates both Liberty and Equal Protection.
        That said, when your choice of politicians never seems to make any difference, perhaps picking one for such a prejudicial and somewhat random reason is no worse.
        And ID politics starts with the idea that elections support notions of party, as if all people who claim membership are equally valued or despised.

    • Burlats de Montaigne says

      ” There’s a pervisity in AOC running as a working class Latina from the Bronx and not what she is: a child of a successful architect who was raised in Westchester and went to a rich kids’ college. What is wrong with her fathers story of success?”

      Rhetorical question, I presume. Anyway…

      … because the narrative of “Jenny from the block” allows her to ‘punch up’. Jenny ‘born with a silver spoon in her mouth’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

  2. Imagine if any one of these candidates were to visit a black neighborhood and declare how glad they were to be back in Real America.

    • @bodydrawings says

      @Chip
      Good one. But you know black folks do say such a thing on the down low.

  3. Farris says

    “What’s more, there is a PAC called The Collective which has raised almost a million dollars explicitly to support black candidates for public office.”

    Where is/was the support for Tim Scott, JC Watts, Armstrong Williams, Condoleeza Rice, Alan Keyes, Ben Carson, Clarence Thomas, Michael Steele, Mia Love, ect…?

    • Thank you! I was wondering when someone would bring up black republicans. It drives me nuts! The left COMPLETELY dismisses them. I dare say, they’re almost racist towards the black right. I love how, according to the left, everyone on the right is a straight out bigot and yet intellectuals like Thomas Sowell have a huge following of right leaning thinkers. And not just on issues of race but of studies of human cultures and what-not. The president of the Heritage Society is a black women, but she’s a conservative christian so I guess she doesn’t count! Grrrr!

    • Alan D White says

      They were running on the basis of their qualifications as color-blind representative American citizens, not as repesentatives of one race.

  4. Never said it before, but from now on I will be proudly color blind. This racial obsessing has to stop.

    • Absurd. You will always detect color (unless you are in fact physically unable to see colors or related ethnic traits). Noting differences is never the problem; it’s assuming that based on the color you see you can judge that person’s character that is equally absurd as your notion of not seeing it at all.

  5. This kind off thing is DIVISIVE.

    Many years ago when I was 9, we went to a rural development project in India. Mum said, Yes is Ha and No is Nehe – go play with the children. We all learned Hindi fast. Then some of the local kids started calling us ‘White faced monkeys’, We responded ‘black faced monkeys’. They went to their parents and their parents went to our parents and we were punished. Needless to say, we never played with the kids from that family again.

    If anyone pulls a race or religion card, I block them. This applies to right and left politicians in Canada, and I don’t discriminate.

    • Racial traits are visible; religious ones less so, though of course devout religious generally do show their “colors.” What’s absurd is the notion that while I can’t stop your religion from being practiced, that I also can’t be prejudiced against you because of your religion. People who hold certain ideas I find offensive or ignorant is clearly a valid reason to judge whether I like you or not. That’s not to say I wouldn’t serve you in my business, but that I might not want to hire you or visit your store seems entirely reasonable.

  6. And just as the ‘alt-right’ has Candace Owen doing the “black person says opposite of what black people and white liberals say”, the “classical liberal” Quillette has Coleman doing a fine job of the same thing here.

    Does Quillette let black writers write about anything other than race? Maybe a black writer could be found to raise the alarm over the coming postmodern apocalypse?

    • Candace Owens is not ‘alt-right’ by any Standard definition.

      I’m sure Quillette will let black people write on whatever topic they want. Matter of fact, there was an article recently by an Australian of Aboriginal descent on the merit of hard work. Or is that not black enough for you?

    • @ mjw51

      Did we read the same article? If we did, we certainly walked away from it with different ideas.

      You said:

      alt-right
      black person
      black people
      white liberals
      classical liberal
      black writer

      From the article you just read:

      “What has gotten lost in the midst of our identity craze is the idea that a politician’s race should not matter. Their policies should; their character should; their ethics should. But the amount of melanin in their skin is as irrelevant to their political competence as it would be to a surgeon’s medical competence. As the Jim Crow era recedes further into history, the level significance that we invest in racial identity should not be increasing; it should be decreasing.”

      If you are concerned about a coming postmodern apocalypse (if I’m misreading sarcasm, my apologies) why on earth are you engaging in the sort of behavior – slinging labels and group names around with abandon in an accusatory manner – that is helping to bring it about?

      You could just say, “I’d love to hear Coleman’s views on X, Y or Z.” Quillette is one of the few places trying to move beyond this crap, and here we are again.

    • ga gamba says

      I just checked and Ms Lehmann was in the garden cracking the whip, demanding the black writers provide only one type of content.

      It would have been more efficient for you to smear Mr Hughes as a coon or a Tom.

      What’s confounding is you are unable to present a counter argument. Is it because you don’t have one? Perhaps you’re simply lazy?

      Get well.

      • D.B. Cooper says

        @ga gamba

        Lehmann in the garden cracking the whip

        Stop it! That’s hilarious.

      • I’m confounded by the suggestion that there would be a “counter argument” to make, Mr Ga.

        The article is a case of stating the obvious- well and articulately indeed- as if it constituted an insight or a critique. It doesn’t.

        The whole point of the article is simply to display a black American saying what people all over the country are grumbling and/or chuckling about: this “leftist” insurgency is looking awfully like a Bennington ad from the 90s: an Asian here, a Latina or two there, some black women, a black guy and a Muslim or three for spice.

        The American socialist “left” likes to pride itself on its resistance to identity politics far more than it does its resistance to Trump. That’s for the liberals to handwave about. But here we are with DSA and the whole “millennial socialist” uprising looking like a powerpoint slide in a “diversity is our strength” segment of a TED talk by Hillary Clinton.

        So I have no “counter argument”. No one with half a functioning brain could.

        I was more interested in the irony of an article, whose appeal to the angry white lads on this site is rooted in the race of the writer, ostensibly critiquing the Dems for doing the same thing.

        • ga gamba says

          Good on you knowing “the obvious”. If only the rest of us numbskulls were so fortunate.

          I don’t know whether there’s been a sudden outbreak in clairvoyance or you’ve hacked everyone’s webcams, but well done to you figuring out the readerships’ race and gender and the sole reason why they enjoy Mr Hughes’s essays, Internet Gumshoe. Of course! Tokenism. Bonus points awarded for smearing the readership to follow the one launched at Hughes earlier. It’s terrific you have all that spare brain capacity to put to good use repeating the tired tropes of yesteryear.

          What’s the encore? Accuse someone of having false consciousness? Perhaps the toot toot ta-toot of claiming a dog whistle? I await the large conclusions you’ll draw next.

          Brilliant stuff, mate.

        • I didn’t know that Bennington was doing multiracial ads in the 1990s. Apart from Bernie Sanders I assumed Vermont has always had the complexion of a snowbank. Are you referring to the town’s chamber of commerce or the college?

          • I just checked and yes *Benetton* (how could I have misspelled that? someone gave me a sweater once!) was rolling multiracial in the 90s.

            I’m referring to various races all around the continental US and Hawaii over the past few months that have been remarkable for their subtle blending of race-ethnicity-gender and “left-progressive” policy stances.

    • peanut gallery says

      This may surprise you, but Coleman H. isn’t owned by Quillette. Shocking, I know.

    • “‘alt-right’ has Candace Owen ”

      I swear, does a regular right exist anymore? Eveyone on the right from interracially married gay men to run of the mill black conservatives are considered alt right.

      • Chuck Oldman says

        Alt-right, Nazis, far-right, white nationalists, white supremacists, misogynists, racists, transphobes, homophobes, etc. are all interchangeable labels in the eyes of the modern left. The meaning of the actual word used is just for flavor, their primary purpose is to brand the unorthodox.

      • It appears that if one happens to possess a generally Indo-European genome then contemporary standards now demand that one must fall into one of two political pigeon holes: Alt-Right or Woke.

    • Associate Professor says

      @mjw51, Black Conservative is a really good gig if you don’t mind serving as the Black Friend of racist white people. You’ll always have work in News Corp, Rebel Media, etc., you don’t really have to do much more besides continually write some variant of “Democrats are the real racists and did you know Lincoln was a Republican,” and the only real downside is knowing that millions of racists are saying, “Coleman Hughes is One of The Good Ones.”

      Oh, there is the downside of publishing with a magazine that runs articles dedicated to showing that the cognitive inferiority of black people is just science, but being a black guy who writes for Quillette is good practice in providing cover for racists.

      • Farris says

        @Associate Professor
        I think the over/under on the Uncle Tom, Sell out, Race Traitor comment was 30.
        One can always count of the Left to rear its racists head when a member of the minority community dares to step out of line. Fifty years ago, you would have just called him “Uppity”.

      • ga gamba says

        It doesn’t look like a duck, walk like a duck, or quack like a duck, but dagnabbit I’m still calling it a duck! Was this your dissertation?

      • Softclocks says

        Appalling comment, truly.

        Surely you can hand us sinners better criticism than “racist” and “uncle tom”.

    • Jason J says

      This is a foolish comment. Listen to Mr. Hughes’ conversation with Sam Harris. He made it clear that philosophy, mind, and the nature of reality are more interesting to him–but, that he feels a responsibility to make important arguments that others (namely white people) cannot publicly make. In other words, he has chosen to make a sacrifice in order to benefit the common good of the United States. I’m sure that if he chose to write about something else with the same care and quality as his articles on race, that Quillette and other outlets will be happy to publish them.

    • I don’t know, why don’t you check with the Atlantic and see they’ll let Ta Nehisi Coates write on anything other than racial nihialism and the insufferable white supremacy of American society. No hurry, I’ll wait….

      • Thanks for doing this.

        A couple of comments above, we have the classic “Liberals are the REAL racists” and now we have the “I’ll call your Coleman Hughes and raise a Ta Nehisis Coates” gambit.

        Besides being utterly sick to death of the “race race race” chant that substitutes for political discourse in so much American media, I think one of the most pernicious exports of American-style liberalism (which with Deneen I see on BOTH sides of the divide) is the particular historical circumstance of US slavery being generalized to all the nations of the world, especially the so-called settler colonies.

        I tend to agree with David French when he suggests that what we are witnessing is an age-old conflict between white elites in the US and the “race issue” is just one front in that war. This works out as one side lobs a Coates-bomb and in response the other side launches a Dinesh D’Souza-gas attack and loyalists line up on either side.

        Hughes seems bright enough and self-aware enough to perhaps know that he is being used by this site to fortify the “classical liberal” position that ultimately will not benefit him or anyone else belonging to minorities in the US because these are the same people who fought tooth and nail against the civil rights movement back in the day.

        But then again, as someone who has also begun playing “poor little rich kid” on an elite campus in the US, he may just be cynical enough to not care at all that he is a useful tool in the right-wing repertoire because it will eventually pay quite well.

        • ga gamba says

          The gist of your comments are:

          Heterodox blacks are coons.
          Heterodox blacks are Uncle Toms.
          Heterodox blacks are sell outs.

          You’re like a Chatty Cathy doll except you pull your own string.

          Have you ever wondered why it so grates your delicate nerves when blacks refuse to comply to your expectations, Massa?

  7. James Lee says

    Great essay. You wrote:

    “By analogy, consider selflessness. Perfect selflessness is impossible. Nobody could honestly say that their level of concern for themselves is identical to their level of concern for a stranger. But we do not let that stop us from encouraging people to strive for selflessness as an ethical ideal.”

    I’m reading the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre’s incredible book “After Virtue”, and I would suggest that you are perhaps speaking for an Aristotelian vision of virtue, which I wholly agree with. MacIntyre argues that we used to have a shared idea of how we began this mysterious life, small in power but full of potential. We also had a shared ideal of what an actualized human life looked like. Ethical and wise behavior was that which took us from those humble beginnings to full flower.

    In the modern era, this framework has fractured, and we now have a cacophany of competing values with no way to adjudicate between them. Merely discussing normative concepts of ethical and wise behavior, as Amy Wax (among others) has done, is to invite condemnation from the hyperliberal mob.

    I think this fracture is in large part why Jordan Peterson has had such success. He is trying to bring back this Aristotelian vision, a shared foundation of ethics grounded in tradition, that helps guide humans to less selfishness and ignorance. This vision resonates with a great many people who are deeply dissatisfied with the incoherence of modern morality, full of blatant double standards and obvious lies.

    • Sadly, these people are not about virtue or ethics. They are about power and control. They commit bias in the name of anti-bias; they hate by identity politics while suggesting that reciprocity is evil. But control the mob, gain the power, and you too can be a con man who tricks the foolish and ignorant.

  8. Can someone please just rubber stamp Mr. Hughes’s degree now? OMFG. Another masterpiece by him. I didn’t know undergrads were even allowed to write that well…but this is just top notch journalism here. (Of course, I have a Stats degree so what do I know about writing eloquently.)

  9. sestamibi says

    Except Mahlon Mitchell lost his Dem gubernatorial primary to white state education supt. Tony Evers.

    Now maybe if Tony could change his name to Medgar or Charles . . . .

  10. Curious Jorge says

    I agree that the black chic trend is real and that the identity craze is going to be the reason that many of these politicians are elected, and it’s not a good foundation to build the future upon.

    But what about Ayanna Pressley’s point that representation matters? We’re talking about a group that has been institutionally underrepresented for centuries. Now the pendulum is swinging and it looks like for the first time ever we might be nearing overrepresentation. Not the worst problem to have in a quest for justice and equality.

    The tricky part to me seems to be that this is only actual “representation” to the extent that there is a monolith of black thought in America. I get the feeling that this must be an uneasy compromise for many African Americans. If I put myself in their shoes I might feel that I almost need to become a part of the monolith to achieve consensus before it is safe for me to take the more independent kind of stance that Coleman Hughes has been able to take.

    • Good comment, Jorge. That was roughly the reservation I had with this piece. The idea that African American representation in Congress is nearing their share of the populace seems (all things being equal) like a good thing, much as I appreciate the path to getting there is not without its problems. Surely there are also grounds for optimism that representational parity might serve as a stepping stone to a point where liberals are less inclined to fetishize Black congressman/woman, and where the monolith you speak starts to break up in a way that’s more conducive to open discussion. Still, perhaps I’m under-estimating the resilience of the sort of identitarianism that’s being lamented here.

      • TarsTarkas says

        It may also simply mean that racial gerrymandering has succeeded in carving out enough ‘black’ districts for the US House to approach their percentage of the population. Blacks are still underrepresented in the Senate because states are hard to gerrymander. Alternatively, it may mean that enough blacks are considered ‘mainstream’ enough that people vote or don’t for them based on principles and policies rather than their skin color. Judging by the actions of the Congressional Black Caucus, I think it’s the former. No can argue that Tim Scott isn’t ‘black’ by any reasonable standard including Sherwin-Williams, but he wasn’t wanted in the CBC.

    • Except for the wealthy and well born, representation has always been a scarce commodity.

    • So “representation” as you note seems to represent an ideal for you right? As does “justice and equality.” Something Right and therefore Good. Do we excuse unethical behavior used as the way to achieve so called representation because its “not the worst problem”? This seems like a rationalization in line with “the ends justify the means” excuses, which generally don’t end well for many.

      As far as blacks and black thought being monolithic it may be wise to remember black conservatives have been effectively shadow-banned in book stores, MSM, and academics for at least 50 years. From Booker T. Washington to Richard Wright to George Schuyler, black authors books that don’t abide by a victim or cultural tourism narrative are often stifled. Ex. Burgess Owens 2016 book was recently shelved in a bookstore’s Fascism section. In addition when a minority dares to shed light on unethical behavior in the world of social justice, there are consequences. Look at controversy around The Book of Matt, a book that discussed the media’s potential hijacking of the Sheppard case.

      I think you have a point about it being easier for blacks (and all minorities in general) to take an independent stance as they learn to use discernment and see through the utopian urge. For others like myself, the turning point will be seeing their ideological”own” turn on them. I for instance was called a “wing nut Republican” by a gay white artist couple. Though I had voted for Obama, I lost them and other friends for questioning his wartime drone policies. From “how dare you” to “don’t you know what he did for people like you” was when I began to explore conservative minority authors. Hopefully Jorge you have already or will read some soon.

    • @Curious Jorge
      The black population is 13% of America and trending downward. The hispanic population is 17% and growing. If we’re going to go the Balkan route and have to have representation according to our color, where does that end? Do we need it according to gender, sexual preference, Trans, religion? Seriously, this is the fear of Arthur Schlesinger when he wrote about “Disuniting America”, this EXACT thing was the fear of the people opposed to the immigration laws of 1965. If you import millions of citizens of various racial identities and then PURPOSELY cultivate multiculturalism and then reinforce it through ethnic studies programs and race huxters like Jesse Jackson then you’re going to see a very polarized divided society. Just like we’re seeing in 2018. Donald Trump didn’t pop out of a vacuum.

    • +1. Not sure why Hughes didn’t address the benefits of representation. When black kids see more black leaders in our culture, they can more easily believe in themselves. They can more confidently pursue certain things. Not saying Hughes is being willfully ignorant here – just that he should’ve examined why representation may or may not be a good in itself.

      I agree with the principle that the color of your skin shouldn’t play a role in your political success, but I also see representation as incredibly important for empowering young minorities, and probably worth breaking with said principle. Will this become a slippery slope where skin tone becomes the *most* important factor for a candidates’ success? Are we at risk of black representatives only looking out for blacks, and abandoning the other issues we care about? Honestly, those outcomes seem very far fetched.

      • Anne Larry says

        @Phil

        Is there actually a benefit of having more black leaders represented so kids of the same race have more belief in themselves?

        As a woman I do not feel more empowered or believe in myself more seeing women in power. In fact as a young person it was often demoralizing to meet women in power who belittled my beliefs and thoughts. I would much rather have a person whose ideals I admire and respect.

        My only worth coming from my vagina seems as useful as worth coming from the color of skin.

    • Judge Harsh says

      “The tricky part to me seems to be that this is only actual “representation” to the extent that there is a monolith of black thought in America.” – absolutely this; it’s been neither obvious nor evident to me why rich, privileged, middle-class candidates should be especially qualified to represent poor, disadvantaged working class constituents, whatever the correlations of skin colour, gender or sexuality.

  11. Gabe Josephs says

    It is not the candidates who have reduced their candidacies to their race. Far from it. Andrew Gillum talks endlessly about how he wants a universal Medicare-for-all program. Stacey Abrams talks about how Georgia needs affordable housing, especially in urban areas like Atlanta. Mahlon Mitchell speaks about how debt has crippled the prospects of UW graduates, and how students should have the ability to refinance their student loans. Your criticisms perish at the altar of grim-visaged reality, because in reality, these candidates have chosen to trumpet their issues and merely mention their race. It is not them who have made their race the spectacle in their respective candidacies; I fear that it is you, and, more broadly, the Right. Racial reductivism is more a tactic on the Right, when confronted with viable candidacies that have people of color at their heads, than a tactic on the Left.

    I also have to rebut the notion that their race is a talisman that grants them special power. Any black candidate will be put through their paces by donors and voters. Whether or not white liberals vote for black candidates because they love the anti-racism-induced rush of endorphins, I cannot be sure, as I am not, myself, white. However, I can guarantee that a candidate who fails to connect on the issues that their electorate cares about will fail, race notwithstanding.

    Finally, I am not sure that I want to return to a dispensation where black candidates are forced to leave behind their blackness, an identity that may be foundational to their understanding of themselves, if they mean to be serious political contenders.

    • As much as I appreciate your argument and believe that it is made with the best of intentions, I don’t think it is just “the right” making much of the race of these candidates. So much of what you read on the left side of things is about the class background and the race/ethnicity of these “amazing” candidates.

      My own sense of this “socialist surge” is that when the smoke clears and new senators and congresspeople etc. take their seats in real government houses in DC and across the US, the policy platforms will slowly fade out and all there will be left is the gender-race-ethnicity of these candidates.

      Thus does identity politics undermine any real possibility of leftist politics in the US.

      Sort of the way all that “hopey-changey” stuff with Obama resulted in people really really liking his “lovely family”.

      • TarsTarkas says

        Can you please let us know exactly what you consider to be ‘leftist’ politics or policies? And why they would be good for the US or any other nation, culture, or society?

        The reason why Obama, HRC, etc. ‘abandoned’ ‘leftist’ politics is because they are smart enough to know socialism and communism have always been and always will be frauds, (because demand will always exceed supply), and simply use it to leverage themselves into a position where they can get rich off of the taxpayers. To paraphrase Tyrant Erdogan, they got on the socialism bus, knowing its promises are a pack of lies, because it got them elected or into power, and rode it only until it got to the station of their choice, adulation/power/riches via government-assisted corruption.

        Income inequality is greatest not under that odious Marxist-coined pejorative term ‘capitalism’, which even under the worse regimes at least gives the individual a chance to better themselves, but under the Marxist-Leninist ideal of the dictatorship of the proletariat. When the state owns or controls everything, so does whoever rules the state, meaning that everyone else has little or nothing.

    • D.B. Cooper says

      I am not sure that I want to return to a dispensation where black candidates are forced to leave behind their blackness, an identity that may be foundational to their understanding of themselves, if they mean to be serious political contenders.

      I’m not sure you’ve considered the implications of your statement here. Putting aside, for a moment, the opacity of a term like ‘blackness’ and the idea that someone could be ‘forced’ to leave it behind, it seems that you’re suggesting the body politic should acquiesce to the unmitigated expression of blackness – on the basis of a priori considerations alone – and in whatever manifestation blackness may take or have taken in the past, Bayesians be damned.

      In other words, black candidates are not, or at least should not be, obligated to adapt/assimilate their blackness (whatever blackness means) to the wants, needs and desires of his/her constituency; but rather it is the voters themselves who should or are obligated to adapt/assimilate their wants, needs and desires to the black candidate’s blackness. Voters should just accept that black candidates are keeping it real, because no other non-black candidate has ever had pretend to change who they are in order to get elected. Politicians of all stripes are known for their principled transparency. They would never abandon, depress or inflate any part of who they are for the purposes of meeting their constituency’s socio-cultural expectations. Political expediency is anathema to the non-black candidate. Look no further than Donald Trump.

      That sounds reasonable enough. Let’s see what happens we when apply that logic – and I use ‘logic’ in the most liberal sense possible – to other domains of life. Since one can imagine how hard it is for transwomen to find a date, to help ameliorate what can only be described as a moral failure of straight cisgender men nearly everywhere, we should start thinking of straight cisgender men who refuse to date transwomen as a form of discrimination. Transwomen shouldn’t be forced to leave behind their dicks on the operation table just so straight cisgender men will be tricked into thinking think they are women. Straight men are the worst, am I right?

      Actually, Jordan Peterson had a similar take on this with respect to helping incel’s find (and keep) themselves a girlfriend. If you’ll remember, his solution was something like forced monogamy; although I don’t recall the Left having the same level of support for adopting Peterson’s version as they (presumably) do for the version that requires voters to acquiesce to blackness. Weird, huh?

      But forced monogamy and dating chicks with… eh… are just the tip of the irrational iceberg. Just consider, for example, that if we were to scale the centrality of this initiative (beyond impositions of recursive blackness), we would begin to recognize a corollary to this great idea. You may have heard of it, I affectionately call it the unacknowledged consequence of coerced equality, or the more often but less sexy, totalitarianism.

      The edifying endorsement of this polemical treatment of Leftist equivocation is as follows:

      ‘Be yourself’ is not a governing philosophy, nor should you expect it to be, and for no other reason than because it is quite impossible to ‘be’ anything other than who you are. Saying the ‘blackness’ of black candidates is an identity that may be foundational to their understanding of themselves is to say nothing at all. It’s hard to know what, precisely, this is supposed to mean. But I’ll take a shot.

      A person’s identity is the very thing that makes them unique; and therefore, their identity – whether it be blackness or some other nebulous term – is by definition foundational to how they understand themselves. As I said, it is an essentially meaningless claim, in that, it simply repeats what is already assumed. You might just as well claim – People identify with the identity they conceptually identify with; which, is how they understand themselves. And if I could’ve made that point even more incoherent, I would’ve; but I didn’t, because I couldn’t, or else I would’ve. #tautologies

      In summary, when blackness is an/the identity of black candidates, then it is quite obviously foundational to their understanding of themselves. When it is not an identity of black candidates, well… then, the more promiscuous Leftists will generally just pretend as if it is an identity and then co-opt all that ‘blackness’ for the exploitation of identity politics. Admittedly useful, but prevarication all the same.

  12. I.J.A. says

    This is an “emotional transaction between voters and politicians. In this bargain, left-leaning voters get to participate in the latest battle of the War On Racism and reap all of the psychological benefits that attend this righteous struggle. On the other end of the bargain, black politicians—who are, after all, just as self-interested as politicians of any other color—get to win elections. I don’t doubt that both voters and candidates emotionally vibrate to the ‘making history’ motif. But in 2018, that motif is no longer an accurate reflection of our racial and political landscape; it is a display of ritualized anti-racism.”

    There’s a lot to unpack here. The ritualized anti-racism and the emotional transaction work to expunge the guilt of whites who have picked up guilt for things that they were actually not responsible for. They pick this guilt up now, today, mostly in college. It’s difficult to get free of guilt for something you were not responsible for. Handing over your vote to Black candidates, though–no matter how privileged–can a kind of sacrifice of your own freedom for the sake of Black people in general. It can make you feel less guilty, and powerful, like you are “making history.” Like you can shed the white privilege you believe that you have–whether you have much of it or not.

    Hughes is right that we are going backwards. When the white elite decided to abandon the MLK jr vision and re-racialize America–a campaign they have been on for decades now–they set us on a backward course that it will be hard to get off of. The play of powerful psychological forces of guilt and ritual and sacrifice and purification is a sign that evil gods are playing with us. Intense race-consciousness loves to live in this kind of environment.

    Courageous of Hughes to stand up to this and say no. Perhaps “color-blindness” can no longer be the right word for some people, but the ethical aspiration hidden inside the word is worth a great commitment of heart and mind from all of us. Many thanks to Mr Hughes for reminding us.

    • Excellent post. I work in the nonprofit sector and it is depressing to see so many white liberals engage in virtue signaling and decry their white “privilege.” Moreover, we have “implicit bias trainings” where the “trainer” tells us that white men are at the top of the pyramid and everyone else is oppressed. We are a small nonprofit and still shelled out 2K for a training based on not one iota of factual evidence. One of my white coworkers said she voted for any candidate with a minority-sounding name and for any women, she said she did not care what their track record was. I am Hispanic and many of my co-workers dislike me because I don’t blindly agree with their dogmatic views.

  13. E. Olson says

    Another very thoughtful and thought provoking essay by Mr. Hughes. The identified ‘Black Chic’ wave may be the only remaining legacy of the Obama presidency – and an unfortunate one in the sense the wave is based affirmative action and uncreative/destructive leftist pablum. Obama was the first, and hopefully last affirmative action President in US history, as his candidacy was based entirely on his dark (but not too dark) skin and an embarrassingly affirmative action CV. “Somehow” a “C” student got into Columbia and Harvard, where virtually no professors or fellow students actually remember him in classes, and “somehow” he was elected head of the Harvard Law School Review, where he distinguished himself by his virtual absence from the pages of the journal. “Somehow” Obama was hired as a Law Professor at the University of Chicago with no scholarly record, where he distinguished himself during his professorship with no research output and the teaching of a few sparsely attended courses that none of his colleagues or students seem to have any positive memories about. In fact, his only “scholarly” output seems to be his two autobiographies that have proven to be heavily fictionalized, and which several credible reports suggest were largely ghost-written. Obama “somehow” parlayed his fame as an author and scholar into a Illinois Senate seat where he distinguished himself with a record number of “present” votes and no significant legislation, which “somehow” became his launch pad to being an invited feature speaker at the 2004 Democratic convention and the election to a US Senate seat, where he distinguished himself by spending most of his time running for the US presidency. During his Presidency he distinguished himself by getting an unworkable and unconstitutional healthcare plan through a heavily Democratic controlled Congress, and a bunch of leftist oriented executive orders, many of which were deemed unconstitutional – how ironic that a Constitutional Law Professor would lose more cases in the Supreme Court than any recent president – and most of the remaining Obama executive orders have been reversed by his Republican successor. He left office with moderate personal approval ratings, terrible political approval ratings, and his party in the worst shape nationally since 1928. Despite this dismal record, however, Obama did show that a physically attractive black candidate with a smooth speech delivery and minimal substantive background could appeal to enough non-black voters to elect him to offices representing heavily white majority districts, which seems to be the model being followed by much of the Black Chic wave.

    Sadly it is difficult to think of any Democrat party black politician in the US or black politicians in other parts of the world that have been successful at anything besides getting themselves into office. Republicans Tim Scott and J.C. Watts, and the elder Nelson Mandela in S. Africa (the younger Mandela would have been a disaster) have provided rare positive role models, but unfortunately black politicians have much more often distinguished themselves by corruption (e.g. Jesse Jackson Jr or Robert Mugabe), and/or insanity (e.g. Maxine Waters or Robert Mugabe), and/or terrible policy initiatives (e.g. Barack Obama or Robert Mugabe). The interesting question is why? I suspect it may be due to a bounty of options – with the “diversity is our strength” mantra running through corporate boardrooms, non-profits, academia, the military, and entertainment circles, an articulate, reasonably smart, reasonably educated black man or woman has many more attractive options than politics.

    • Whatever his shortcomings, Barack Obama was far more qualified for the presidency than the current occupant of the White House. Do you actually think a black man (or woman) with Donald Trump’s background and character would have been taken seriously as a candidate? Or that Obama was less successful than George W. Bush, who embroiled the U.S. in an unnecessary military conflict? (It’s hard to argue that the ACA was more expensive and destructive than the Iraq War.) Or that Bush (an *actual* C student) would have gotten into Yale without his family’s connections?

      I’m very open to reasonable debates about affirmative action programs, but not to uncreative/destructive anti-leftist pablum.

      • E. Olson says

        Lets see – Trump’s qualifications are the extensive real estate empire be built, and the development of a very successful TV program that he starred in, and the creation of the very valuable “Trump” brand. I guess that means you don’t think that Oprah Winfrey would be taken seriously as a candidate – a black woman who built her own wildly successful TV show that she starred in? I guess you also don’t think Magic Johnson would be taken seriously as a candidate – a black man who has built an extensive real estate empire and has a flair for personal publicity? I’m not sure your opinion would be widely shared.

        As for George W. It is true that he was a C student at Yale in the 1960s before the days of rampant grade inflation (his GPA was slightly higher than John Kerry’s), but I’ve never heard that W was a C student in high school as Obama was during the grade inflating 1970s. No doubt W was helped by the family name in getting his “foot in the door” with regards to his educational attainment and business and political career, but most pundits suggest he performed well as GM of the Rangers and governor of Texas, which would suggest some talent for management and decision making that made him much better qualified than a community organizer / adjunct professor / part-time senator. As for W’s performance in office, I think you are forgetting the mood of the public after 9/11/01 and the low quality of intelligence reports before and after the WTC attack, and how easy it is to use 20/20 hindsight to conclude that the Iraq war was an expensive mistake, but remember Hillary voted for it also. From my point of view, W was not a successful Republican president, because he spent way too much money on not only the war, but needless expansions of DC swamp and welfare state, but I am sympathetic to his situation because the WTC attack put a lot on his plate that he didn’t/couldn’t plan on, and he got a lot of unfair negative press that Obama never had to deal with.

        • Please be honest. Do you actually think a black businessman who was twice divorced, had declared bankruptcy several times, had multiple extramarital affairs, consistently demeaned and objectified women, engaged in constant bragging, displayed utter ignorance of national and international issues, publicly praised dictators, etc. would have gotten any traction as a candidate? As far as I can tell, Trump’s only real talent is for self-promotion. Many of his businesses have lost money, and according to one analysis he would be wealthier today had he simply invested his inheritance in an index fund.

          I agree with you that the press showered praise on Obama, but it’s worth remembering that the mainstream media was universal in its support of Bush after 9/11 and only really turned against him following his handling of Hurricane Katrina. Also, many people (including Obama) opposed the Iraq War before it was launched and correctly predicted that it would be a boondoggle. You’re right about Clinton; her vote probably cost her the 2008 nomination.

          • E. Olson says

            The difference with a Black Trump would be that his “off-mic” recordings demeaning women would never be released or reported by the media, and his other “indiscretions” and “mis-judgments” would be excused or ignored. I can predict this because it is what happened when Obama ran and had some juicy associations with terrorists (Ayers), racists (Reverend Wright), and criminals (Tony Rezko), and likely claimed foreign citizenry/birth in his school applications and/or to juice up book sales (the birther claim started with the Hillary campaign), which were all ignored or excused by the media. So a Black Trump with some baggage would certainly get a free-ride from the media – as long as there was a “D” by his name.

          • MsAgentM says

            Not really sure why I can’t reply to the comment you made after this, but it’s always interesting when people claim that you would not hear about x,y and z if it were a liberal offense because of this supposed protection the MSM give them. Please tell me… if the MSM would have shielded Obama, had he controversies like Trump, and the examples you provide supporting this are from Ayers, Rezko and Wright… then how do you even know about those “controversies” then if the MSM did not report them?

      • Mike Matesky says

        “Do you actually think a black man (or woman) with Donald Trump’s background and character would have been taken seriously as a candidate?”

        Was Donald Trump taken seriously as a candidate?

        • Only by 35-40% of voters in the Republican primaries. Unfortunately, that was enough to clinch him the nomination.

  14. If this were simply a province of the left, then the Republicans would have a very easy time winning elections. All they would have to do is field Black candidates, and this would decimate any advantage that the Democrats had with minorities.

    But they don’t. It isn’t that Black people haven’t tried. Ben Carson was as right wing as Trump and easily more intelligent. He also had the benefit of being deeply religious and faithful to his wife. It still didn’t work out. It seems that a majority of Republican voters were reluctant to back him.

    I would admit that ethnic sectarianism is more subtle on the right. Even Trump didn’t explicitly appeal to white voters, it’s a bit boorish and crass and people still associate that sort of thing with Nazis. But it’s still there.

  15. Jack B Nimble says

    There was a time, only a few decades ago, when Republicans and conservatives were open to the idea of making amends for historical injustices against certain groups, by offering apologies and even monetary compensation to the victims and their heirs:

    ‘…The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 …… granted reparations to Japanese Americans who had been interned by the United States government during World War II….The bill was supported by the majority of Democrats in Congress, while the majority of Republicans voted against it. The act was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.

    The act granted each surviving internee about US$20,000 in compensation… The legislation stated that government actions were based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership” as opposed to legitimate security reasons…..On October 9, 1990, a ceremony was held to present the first reparations checks. Nine elderly Issei received $20,000 each and a formal apology signed by President George H. W. Bush. United States Attorney General Dick Thornburgh presented the checks to the attendees, dropping to his knees to reach those in wheelchairs.

    Payments to surviving internees or their heirs continued until 1993, overseen by the Office of Redress Administration, one of two government agencies created to carry out the 1988 act’s implementation. The other, the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, was established in order to meet the redress bill’s provision to educate the public about the incarceration….While the majority of Democrats in Congress voted for the bill, the majority of Republicans voted against it. On September 17, 1987, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 243 to 141, with 38 members not voting. The majority of Democrats in the House voted for the bill (180 in favor vs. 43 opposed) while a majority of Republicans voted against it (63 in favor vs. 98 opposed). On April 20, 1988, the U.S. Senate passed the bill by a vote of 69 to 27, with 4 members not voting. A large majority of Democrats voted for the bill (44 in favor vs. 7 opposed), while a more narrow majority of Senate Republicans also voted for the bill (25 in favor vs. 20 opposed)…..’ Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Liberties_Act_of_1988 , emphasis added.

    What the hell happened to conservatives in the past 30 years, to cause them to now ignore, or even make excuses for, other historical injustices in the nation’s collective history?

    • Farris says

      Reparations, now there’s a fine idea. The democrats, the party of slavery, Jim Crow and the Klu Klux Klan, can write a check any time they please. The republicans, the party of emancipation and passage of the Civil Rights Act, paid in blood on the battlefields of Gettysburg, Shiloh, Bull Run, Vicksburg, ect…
      So when should Mr. Hughes expect your check?

      • Jack B Nimble says

        @Farris

        Your history of the Civil Rights Movement is deeply flawed. Something happened to the Republican Party, starting in the 1980s or maybe going back to Goldwater–namely, an influx of angry, resentful Southern whites. I’ve lived in a Southern state for 35 years and have seen this process first-hand. The change can be seen by 1992 in the renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and even more strongly in the 2006 renewal:

        “….As the bilingual election requirement in Section 203(c) neared expiration in 1992… Representative José E. Serrano (D-NY) introduced legislation, dubbed the Voting Rights Language Assistance Act of 1992, to extend the provision for 15 years…..This legislation received more Congressional opposition than the 1982 amendments did, most of it from Republicans. Proponents argued that the lack of bilingual assistance hindered recently naturalized citizens from exercising their voting rights and that the country had a history of acceptance toward linguistic pluralism. Opponents argued that the Voting Rights Act was never meant to protect language minorities and that the bilingual assistance provision was a costly unfunded mandate…. Congress passed the legislation with mostly Democratic support the House passed it by a 237-125 vote, and the Senate passed it by a 75-20 vote. President George H. W. Bush signed the legislation on August 26, 1992.

        Congress reconsidered the Act in 2006 as the special provisions were due to expire in 2007. Civil rights organizations advocated for the renewal and strengthening of the special provisions. As a matter of principle, Democrats generally supported renewing the special provisions. However, the Republican Party controlled both chambers of Congress and the presidency, and many Republicans considered the preclearance requirement an affront to states’ rights and the principle of color-blindness. Furthermore, conservatives believed that the primary beneficiaries of the special provisions were African Americans, who overwhelmingly and increasingly voted for Democratic Party candidates. However, Republicans were receiving increasing support from some language minority groups, particularly Hispanics and Asian Americans, and they did not wish to risk losing that support by refusing to reauthorize the special provisions. Republicans also recognized that the Act often helped Republican candidates win by requiring jurisdictions to pack Democratic-leaning racial minorities into few electoral districts…..” Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amendments_to_the_Voting_Rights_Act_of_1965 emphasis added

        • It is very down market to cite Wikipedia for stuff like this; anybody can anonymously edit it’s content.

          • Jack B Nimble says

            @EK

            Whether you call them the amen corner, a hive mind, or group-thinkers, many commenters here engage in mutual congratulation, mutual admiration and mutual back-patting with like-minded commenters and authors–along with suspicion and disbelief against commenters who are not part of the group mind. Unwillingness to even consider information from non-partisan and open-sourced websites like Wikipedia, Snopes.com and other Wiki pages is part of the same syndrome. Wikis and Snopes link back to the original primary sources. If someone doesn’t trust the primary sources, they are truly living in their own private reality–in which UFOs, witchcraft and global conspiracies are all equally plausible.

    • D.B. Cooper says

      @Jack B Nimble

      First, I want to apologize for waiting 3 days to criticize this nonsense. I can assure you the delay was unintentional as it is not like me to overlook an idea this bad. As ideas go, reparations are an unmitigated disaster – a dumpster fire that won’t die out.

      There was a time, only a few decades ago, when Republicans and conservatives were open to the idea of making amends for historical injustices against certain groups, by offering apologies and even monetary compensation to the victims and their heirs…

      What the hell happened to conservatives in the past 30 years, to cause them to now ignore, or even make excuses for, other historical injustices in the nation’s collective history?

      Just so we’re clear, I don’t give a shit what idea(s) Republicans and conservatives were open to yesterday morning or in 1988. For what it matters, I’m neither (registered independent). Furthermore, I can say without reservation – in light of the current prospects (on both sides of the aisle) – I would gladly take the ’92-‘00 Bill Clinton as POTUS in perpetuity in a trade for Trump, both Bush’s, Obama and ten future identity politic pimps to be named later. I am not making a theoretical distinction. I mean this, literally.

      If you ever need to illustrate, to a first-year ethics class, what bad faith incitement looks like, you could do worse than defending the moral profanity that is reparations. In case you haven’t guessed, I don’t believe in the concept of collective guilt. The idea that you can, or in some cases, should be held liable for the actions of another person is an abomination of justice. I can’t say for certain, but that’s probably why most free societies frown upon the idea of that’s it’s morally permissible to arrest the family members of the idiot who actually commits the crime. To be blunt, the fact that I even have to make that point should indicate just how inherently illegitimate an idea like this is.

      Regardless of how one comes down on the question of reparations, the fact remains that The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 granted each surviving internee compensation, not their great, great grandchildren. Granted, you haven’t explicity stated, exactly, what historical injustice or certain group you’re referring to, but consider the comment is listed under an article about the ‘Black Chic’ wave, I think it’s reasonable to assume you’re talking about black slaves – for reasons of brevity, I’m just gonna skip over the fact that white people were also slaves and… wait for it… wait… black people were slave owners during that period in American history.

      In truth, the single fact that should be mentioned is that there is no moral equivalency between compensating an individual that actually suffered the injustice themselves and the logical underpinnings of compensation/reparations predicated on the historical injustices of one or another amorphous group’s antecedents. You’ve tried (unsuccessfully) to conflate two dissimilar events. Not that it matters all that much, but no one – aside from a plurality of white guilt sympathizers – in American politics has ever really supported an idea as stupid as reparations. Frankly, I don’t think very many people take the idea serious and the people who do aren’t serious people themselves and, yes, that includes Ta-Nehisi Coates. Ask yourself, what kind of black man blames white people for his problem while simultaneously demanding that white people fix those problems? I would be ashamed of myself, as man – not as a black man or as a white man, but as a MAN – if I forfeited my moral agency to an entire group of people because of my skin color.

      • Cassandra says

        Great post. I am so tired of politicians apologising , presumably on my behalf as one of their citizens, for misdeeds of the past which I do not approve of, and probably would not have approved of if I had actually been born when they were committed.

        I am sorry that people were enslaved, I am sorry that people were mistreated, in the sense that I have compassion for them. I am not sorry , in the sense of taking one iota of blame for these things which happened long before I was born.

        I would prefer to turn my attention and my efforts, practical and positive, to righting injustice and alleviating distress where I see it now,,at this moment, in this world.

  16. I’m happy to see more competent, honest black politicians for pretty much any reason, just as I’m happy to see people like Mr. Hughes writing here. Role models matter. Cardi B brawling with Niki Minaj should not get over a million times the public exposure as this essay. It’s not even just a “black thing”. In the UK there’s a huge white underclass (alongside many black and other minority wealthy bankers in the City) that also needs better representation in the halls of power.

  17. “Whites were not enslaved, subjected to lynching, redlining, and various other instruments of racial terror.”

    From Wikipedia:

    One of the largest mass lynchings in American history was of eleven Italians in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1891. The city had been the destination for numerous Italian immigrants.[12] Nineteen Italians who were thought to have assassinated police chief David Hennessy were arrested and held in the Parish Prison. Nine were tried, resulting in six acquittals and three mistrials. The next day, a mob stormed the prison and killed eleven men, none of whom had been convicted, and some of whom had not been tried.[13] Afterward, the police arrested hundreds of Italian immigrants, on the false pretext that they were all criminals.[14][15] Teddy Roosevelt, not yet president, famously said the lynching was indeed “a rather good thing”. John M. Parker helped organize the lynch mob, and in 1911 was elected as governor of Louisiana. He described Italians as “just a little worse than the Negro, being if anything filthier in their habits, lawless, and treacherous”.

    Also, an article from the History channel:

    https://www.history.com/news/the-grisly-story-of-americas-largest-lynching

    Obviously not the same scale as African Americans, but it did occur.

    • E. Olson says

      Every culture around the world has been enslaved at one point or another – thus we can all claim to have slave ancestors. The only cultures still doing the slave trade are in dark Africa and the Middle-East, the first cultures to give it up were white.

    • Conan the Librarian says

      “Whites were not enslaved, subjected to lynching, redlining, and various other instruments of racial terror….”

      I believe this is a gross error of generalization, even leaving aside 2,000 years of inter-European slavery (from “slav”, “slavic”):

      By the numbers (cf. Thomas Sowell, “Black Rednecks and White Liberals”), the majority of lynchings in the US have been European descendants, not African. Counterintuitive because of primary school propaganda, but those are the data. Several of my European ancestors were lynched in Kentucky.

      In America, many groups we now lump as “whites” were treated as racial minorities and experienced deep discrimination for generations. Jews, Italians, Polish, Greeks, Russians, and Irish were not considered “white” until various points in the 20th century and were blackballed, ghettoed, quota-ed, stereotyped, redlined, and subject to lynching and mob intimidation.

      People from Oklahoma (okies) and hillbillies (rednecks, crackers) routinely faced blackballing and redlining during the early and mid-20th century when they tried to migrate. Nobody wanted them around, and many towns drove them away with violence (real violence, not by making them feel unsafe in their college classes).

      Even today, “poor whites” in the mid-South are the poorest demographic and most underrepresented in corporate hiring, university admissions, and the like, well below black Americans taken as a group. Racism against them is fine, and few care to consider them as a disadvantaged group because they have pink skin.

      The racism against crackers is so ingrained we don’t notice it. For example, it is common these days in the US for educated “woke white” people to cast stupid and nasty characters on TV as stereotypical crackers or to adopt a cracker accent to mock viewpoints they consider backward: “I hain’t givin’ up muh guns jus’ cuz a few innocent high school childrens done got shot. How’m I gonna git me squirrels fer supper?” or “Ah kint let women folk have safe and legal ‘bortions, cuz Jesus n stuff.”

      One would of course vaporize in a blast of self-righteous white-hot Leftist outrage were one to mock black American or hispanic speech and manners in polite company thus.

  18. One could argue that in a representative democracy, it makes a certain degree of sense that voters focus on all the different ways in which a politician represents them, and ethnicity is one of those factors. Campaign ads featuring farms, small towns, and churches don’t say much about a politician’s policies, either, but they communicate the same message: “I’m just like you.”

    This essay neglects to point out that Ayanna Pressley won mostly without the support of the Democratic Party’s machine. Both the Congressional Black Caucus PAC and former African-American governor Deval Patrick endorsed her opponent. Pressley mainly won because the demographics of the district have changed. It’s now majority-minority, and majority-minority districts have historically voted for minority candidates. Indeed, this is why the Voting Rights Act created many of the majority-minority districts in the South. The goal was to ensure that Congress would include more African Americans, and voters in those districts voted for candidates who looked like them. That is a feature, not a bug.

    Similarly, I don’t think this is a uniquely Democratic phenomenon. While the following individuals are intelligent and meritorious in a variety of ways, they owe at least part of their political success to being among the few racial minorities in the modern conservative movement: Ben Carson, Mia Love, Tim Scott, Herman Cain, Candace Owens, etc. Similarly, Ronald Reagan campaigned on the fact that he would appoint a woman to the Supreme Court, but you don’t often hear conservatives denigrating Sandra Day O’Connor’s achievements even though she was, in many ways, filling a diversity quota.

    Both sides play the game, of course. When George W. Bush nominated Miguel Estrada and Janice Rogers Brown to the District of Columbia Circuit, he was intentionally trying to set up two racial minorities for future Supreme Court appointments. Thanks to leaked e-mails, we know that Democrats saw through Bush’s strategy, and they blocked the nominees for precisely that reason. Estrada and Brown were qualified, of course, and I think Pressley, Stacey Abrams, and Andrew Gillum are qualified for their positions, but it’s hard to imagine a modern world in which the politics of identity, racial or otherwise, are not a factor. We’re tribal, hyper-visual, somewhat narcissistic creatures, and politicians know it.

  19. Cerastes says

    The article mis-characterizes The Collective’s statement about 13% of various legislative bodies being black as desirable – rater than “reductio ad absurdium”, which the author mis-uses, this is instead the metric of a hypothetical “zero-discrimination” society, where the trait in question is irrelevant to electability and only subject to sampling error. Think of it like rolling a pair of dice – if snake eyes happens significantly more or less than 1/36 of a large number of rolls, that’s evidence the dice are loaded. Or if you’re drawing cards from a pile of many decks, if the proportion of diamonds is more or less than 1/4 in a large sample, that’s evidence that something is wrong with the deck (whether that’s active manipulation or just poor shuffling).

    Now, you *can* disagree with The Collective’s method of reaching this ideal goal, but you cannot disagree that a difference between the sample and general population indicates that the sampling procedure is non-random with respect to the variable in question (not with a sample as large as theirs). You can disagree about *why* sampling is non-random and how to change it, but not with the brute force statistics.

    • Actually, I can disagree since the extrapolation from sample to population is incorrect. While the racial group may constitute 13% of the total population, that isn’t an even distribution across all geographies and elected officials represent geographies (districts). The black population is pretty heavily concentrated in the big cities. While big cities receive a lot of elected officials due to population counts, that doesn’t mean that 13% of the districts have a majority black population who votes purely on the race of candidate. We have that whole D vs R thing going on, not black vs white vs hispanic. Now, when you also consider a district isn’t a simple 2-factor combination where 13% are black dominant at > 50% it gets even more complicated. What if the black and hispanic populations co-reside? Now that district is fighting to decide which demographic get it in the % column.

      Another parallel is the education system where there is constant cries about the low number of female professors in STEM while not acknowledging the over-population in other fields. It all depends on how you slice and group. There is no “huge underrepresentation” in the Academy as a whole, but there may be by field.

  20. Good article but Obama was not a success on any tangible level. Worst recovery from a recession ever and his signature achievement was Obamacare which ruined most peoples health care to get 8 million more people covered.

  21. Farris says

    History: The first President to enforce Brown v. The Board of Education was Dwight D. Eisenhower. The 1965 Voting Rights Act was passed over the opposition of Democrats only with the help of Republicans. The 1992 reauthorization received bipartisan support and was signed by a Republican President. The history of the Democrat party is one of slavery and segregation.
    Conservatives were some of the first to change their position on Civil Rights…”When the conservative editor and intellectual William F. Buckley, Jr., ran for mayor of New York in 1965, he may have been the first conservative to endorse affirmative action, or, as he called it, “the kind of special treatment [of African Americans] that might make up for centuries of oppression.” He also promised to crack down on labor unions that discriminated against minorities, a cause even his liberal opponents were unwilling to embrace. Buckley pointed out the inherent unfairness in the administration of drug laws and in judicial sentencing. He also advanced a welfare “reform” plan whose major components were job training, education and daycare.

    In 1969, in his capacity as founding editor of National Review, launched a decade and a half earlier as a “conservative weekly journal of opinion” that stood in opposition to the dominant liberal ethos of the time, Buckley toured African-American neighborhoods in Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and Atlanta organized by the Urban League and afterward singled out for special praise “community organizers” who were working “in straightforward social work in the ghettos.” In an article in Look magazine months later, Buckley anticipated that the United States could well elect an African-American president within a decade, and that this milestone would confer the same reassurance and social distinction upon African Americans that Roman Catholics had felt upon the election of John F. Kennedy. That, he said, would be “welcome tonic” for the American soul.”
    https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/05/13/william-f-buckley-civil-rights-215129

    • Jack B Nimble says

      @Farris

      Enough with the fake history!! Here’s Ike on Brown vs. Bd. of Education:

      “….At a White House stag dinner in February 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower shocked the new chief justice of the United States. Earl Warren was Eisenhower’s first appointment to the Supreme Court and had been sworn in just four months earlier….. Over coffee, Eisenhower took Warren by the arm and asked him to consider the perspective of white parents in the Deep South. “These are not bad people,” the president said. “All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big black bucks.”

      It was an appalling moment. Here was the president leaning on the chief justice about a pending case while using the racist terms of an overseer. Several of Eisenhower’s admirers have attempted to downplay the encounter, but reports confirm that he used racially charged language in private. The incident left such an impression that Warren recounted it in his memoirs some 20 years later. Ever decorous, he sanitized the slur from “black bucks” to “overgrown Negroes,” but in his biography, Super Chief, Bernard Schwartz, one of Warren’s confidants, recorded the actual phrase in all its rotten vinegar…..” https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/04/commander-v-chief/554045/

      And Bill Buckley tolerated racists at Nat. Rev. well into the 1970s:

      “……….In 1960, a National Review editorial stated that “the whites are entitled, we believe, to preeminence in South Africa.” The magazine would continued to support white minority rule in African countries like Rhodesia and South Africa until the very end of those regimes.

      “The learning ability of Negro children on the average is not as responsive at present as that of white children to the stimulation given by average white schools,” Ernest Van den Haag wrote in National Review in 1964. “We don’t know whether it will ever be. … Therefore, Negroes and whites should be educated separately.”

      In 1965, National Review writer James Jackson Kilpatrick, speaking at a conference honoring the hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, suggested there should be an “inquiry into the possibility of some innate inferiority in the Negro race.” That same year, William Buckley himself warned of “chaos” and “mobocratic rule” if “the entire Negro population in the South were suddenly given the vote.”

      In 1969, the anthropologist John Greenway asked in National Review, “Did the United States destroy the American Indian?” His answer: “No, but it should have.” Greenway approved of genocide because “without war and raiding and scalping and rape and pillage and slavetaking the Indian was as aimless as a chiropractor without a spine. There was nothing left in life for him but idleness, petty mischief, and booze.”

      In 1975, National Review editor Jeffrey Hart praised Jean Raspail’s racist novel The Camp of Saints. “In this novel Raspail brings his reader to the surprising conclusion that killing a million or so starving refugees from India would be a supreme act of individual sanity and cultural health,” Hart enthused. “Raspail is to genocide what [D.H. Lawrence] was to sex.” He also called the “liberal rote anathema on ‘racism’” nothing more than a “poisonous assault on Western self-preference.”

      In 1979, National Review editor Joseph Sobran lamented the fact that if you were to write a history textbook, you would have to include “celebratory little passages on all the vocal pressure groups: women and minorities, or chicks and spics as you’ll wind up wanting to call them.”…..”
      https://newrepublic.com/article/151127/conservatives-know-much-conservative-history

      • Farris says

        @Jack B Nimble
        Do you really want to compare Republican and Democrat racial transgressions? Lyndon Johnson’s salty language toward blacks could not be reprinted here or compared to Ike’s. None of the quotes you listed could be attributed to Governors, Senators or police chiefs. If you are interested in real history you should read the quotes of Bull Connor, Gov. George Wallace, John J. Sparkman (Senator & democratic nominee for V.P.), Gov. Ross Barnett, Gov. Lester Maddox, All democrats, just to name a few.

        • Jack B Nimble says

          @Farris

          YOU brought up Ike and Bill Buckley, not me. Too many conservatives mistake a laundry list for a strong argument. A list of four racist Democrats from the 1950s & 1960s is twice as convincing as a list of two, and if you have a list of 400 names–whoa!!–hold on to your hat.

          Look, both major parties have had racist and reactionary elements now or in the past. Democrats continue to try to make amends for past mistakes by supporting the Voting Rights Act in the 21st century, expanding health care access and educational access to the poor of all backgrounds, and so on.

          Republicans? Not so much–they just want to ride on the coattails of Abraham Lincoln, U.S. Grant, and other figures from the GOP’s heroic age of anti-racism. But that strategy isn’t working anymore.

          • Farris says

            @Jack B Nimble
            “Look, both major parties have had racist and reactionary elements now or in the past.“

            Now you have written something with which I can agree. So since both parties have unsavory elements in their past can we quit consistently calling one group racist or white supremacist? Does such name calling and sniping actually work towards a solution?
            Instead of arguing which group has the best motives, could we examine the evidence and focus on which methods produce the best results?
            This conversation began with a suggestion of reparations. I took exception (admittedly sarcastically)because reparations over looks the fact that over 350,00 made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of others. To those who would denigrate the history of the United States and focus on its ills, I would ask, if they can name one other country where the majority population fought a war against its brethren to win freedoms for a minority population?

          • Jack B Nimble says

            @Farris

            OK….. political parties are not racist or anti-racist; only individual persons are.

            And waving the bloody shirt from the Civil War? My great-great-grandfather, a Welshman from Cardiff, carried a rifle for the Union Army. My family still owns that rifle. And I’m proud to be the descendant of a Civil War soldier AND the descendant of immigrants.

  22. I like Stacey Abrams. I’ve been following her candidacy for a few years now. I sent her money a while back and think she’s a great candidate. I don’t know as much about the other three candidates mentioned in this piece.

    I followed the Collective PAC, mentioned by the writer, for a while and have donated to some of their candidates in the past…Interestingly enough, they had a gubernatorial candidate named Jim Johnson listed on their site in 2017. Johnson was running in New Jersey against now-governor Phil Murphy in the Democratic primary, and I did some volunteer work for his campaign and donated. But interestingly, Johnson did not receive the usual 90-100 percent score that most of the other candidates listed on the site received. I distinctly remember him scoring around 70 percent on the Collective PAC’s candidate survey and wondering why. I privately wondered if he was seen as “not black enough” by the organization. It’s a shame that he didn’t win the primary – he was a far better candidate than Phil Murphy.

    I do remember the founder of that organization, Quentin James, suggesting that Bernie Sanders “might be a white supremacist” back in November 2016. Link here: https://medium.com/@quentinjames/the-left-has-a-white-supremacy-problem-too-2071ebd1022

    This statement seems pretty extreme to me, considering Sanders’ history in Left wing politics…though I will say that his explanations for votes on gun control, immigration reform, and the 1994 crime bill leave me scratching my head.

    I cannot remember what exactly the remark was, but Senator Sander was making an argument somewhat similar to the one that Hughes is making in this article – that candidates should be judged on the basis of their policy positions (in Sanders’ case, a commitment to a Leftist, redistributive program that includes things like addressing economic inequality, police accountability, drug policy, single payer health care, et cetera), not characteristics like race and gender. Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Adolph Reed have made similar arguments from a Leftist point of view about how progressive policy can fall to the wayside when there is an insinuation that a candidate’s characteristics (race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, et cetera) are proxies for progressive policy positions.

    I remember Sanders being skewered for his comments, and I remember towing the line of critique used against him when it happened – i.e. “How typical of an old white dude to say that,”
    “White privilege personified,” et cetera. On the one hand, I see how Sanders’ comments can come off as tone deaf; and I do believe that we need more women and people of color in government. But on the other hand, I often get calls from campaigns and receive emails from Democratic candidates or “progressive” organizations asking for money without hearing much mentioned about policy positions…or I find out that their policy histories are not as progressive as the campaigns present. This isn’t limited to candidates who are women or people of color, but it sometimes happens that there is overlap.

    I have to admit…it was difficult to understand how Hillary Clinton could justify giving speeches about economic inequality during the campaign while wearing a $15,000 jacket and knowing that she received so much money for those speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs, an entity that arguably contributed to the financial crisis. I voted for her and even participated in the nastiness directed at Senator Sanders – the “red baiting” over how his social democratic agenda was “pie in the sky” and the insinuation that a redistributive economic agenda would be “implicitly white supremacist.” Not to mention the idea that Leftists who didn’t like or support Hillary were somehow “sexist.” That just strikes me as a way of shutting down honest, constructive criticism. Clinton arguably lost a lot of young voters because of this line of thinking.

    There just isn’t a linear connection between someone’s characteristics like race and gender and their policy positions. For example, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both waited until after the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage to publicly “evolve” on the issue. They both stated that they believed that “marriage is between a man and a woman” back in 2008. That position is politically untenable now.

    Hillary Clinton also voted for the war in Iraq, which myself and other Leftists view as an unnecessary war. And I’d actually say that all war is unnecessary; out of control defense spending in the United States needs to be on the chopping block. President Obama’s administration did not deliver on promises to close Guantanamo Bay. And as much as it improved access to health care, the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, is seen by a number of Leftists (myself included) as insurance industry-appeasing and a poor substitute for the dream of single payer health care. Nearly 30 million people are still uninsured in the United States. And the subsidies offered often hardly make a dent in the monthly cost of the premiums for plans offered on the marketplace. Bill Clinton, with Hillary Clinton as an adviser in the 1990s, oversaw the continued gutting of social safety nets and assistance programs for poor people. “Tough-on-crime” laws have historically been supported by some black Democrats, particularly mayors of some majority-black cities – these policies have arguably contributed to the disproportionate incarceration rates of black men. James Forman talks about this in his book “Locking Up Our Own.”

    I voted for Obama twice (2008 was my first presidential election) and Clinton once, so I’m not saying that we shouldn’t vote for people who fall short on some issues. I certainly believe that Obama and Clinton were/are far more desirable than McCain, Romney, and Trump; and I dislike the canonization of McCain that’s currently taking place. But it’s difficult to ignore that the bar has been set incredibly low for Democrats and any left-leaning candidate – when it comes to economic inequality and a re-distributive social democratic program, the political center of gravity in the United States has moved to the right since the 1960s and even more so since Reagan’s presidency. You don’t have to lean very much to the Left at all to be “the less bad.”

    Sorry to ramble. Just wanted to come at this discussion from a different point of view to complicate monolithic notions of “the Left” that are often promoted in the comments section on Quillette.

    • Kathleen Lowrey says

      Sanders: arrested while protesting in support of the Civil Rights Movement.

      HRC: called young black men “superpredators” who needed to be “brought to heel”

      but the correct left position was to support her, not him. He was supposedly a white supremacist while she was declared marvelous, marvelous, marvelous.

      This kind of thing is how a white feminist cat lady like me has ended up reading sites like Quillette.

  23. I’ll echo the point made in a several other responses but make it a little more front-and-center: I might be able to wrap my head around most (though not all) of the current wave of (non-white) identity politics *if* it were to turn out in 10 or 20 or 40 years that it was just all a part of a ‘normalization’ of politics.

    I.e. considering Congress, the Supreme Court, state legislatures, the state governors, etc. the collected US government is still mostly “old, Christian, male, cis-gendered, white” and so on; a truly equal society would, over time, elect people in numbers that reflect the percentages of females, Hispanics, gay/lesbian/etc., atheists, etc. etc. etc. It would be *highly* unusual for any given election to reflect those numbers exactly, but averaged over multiple election cycles we *should* be seeing numbers that reflect the identitarian makeup of the country.

    Of course, that all *should* be true regardless of how you slice the identities (so e.g. atheist, auto mechanic, AV-club nerd, stridently anti-homosexual, etc.) For identities that (supposedly) don’t matter (or supposedly shouldn’t matter, in any case; or would be acceptable in a truly-liberal-society-that-protects-minority-rights-from-majoritarian-tyranny-so-we-can-accept-the-e.g.-homophobe-as-“merely”-representative, in any case…) the over-time averages should reflect something like straight proportionality.

    So… question: Is the current wave of identity politics merely a growing pain? Once “equality” is reached will e.g. “black chic” burn out? Or will it have taken on a life of it’s own? Will politics pivot back to “content” from “representation”? To older, cross-“identity” groups (e.g. “the poor” or “the working class”)? Or will some new groups become in vogue? And then some new groups after that?

    I’m not sure. I fear the worst. I fear a hardening of racial/ethnic groups, an extension of the life of “black” and “white” and “Asian” and so forth for another 200 or 400 or 600 years. People say we can’t be “color blind” and we can’t be… but we can maybe be “race blind” because we certainly once were (though groups –ethnicity, tribe, class, religion, etc.– have always existed, “race” has not.) I fear the American (and *maybe* more the left-American) tendency to racialize everything e.g. how “Hispanic” or “Islamic” are now treated like races (rather than language or religious, and kind-of-sort-of cultural, groupings), how even gender and sexuality have picked up racial overtones (certainly this is undeniably true in the cross-pollination between various activisms.)

    But could it all just be part of the shift? I certainly have friends that view it that way. Some activists have publicly defend e.g. identity-movement “excesses” that way.

  24. Marko Novak says

    Up here in Canada, Justin Trudeau selected his cabinet members from his pool of elected Liberal MPs based on gender, race, religion, immigration status, even disability. He matched the percentage of Canadians in each group instead of the percentage of available elected Liberal MPs. He’s had to shuffle his cabinet 3 times now based on their poor performace. Interestingly, it turns out that not a single one of those things is actually a job qualification. If you don’t select the most qualified person for the job, disregarding gender, race, religion, immigration status, or even disability, you are failing to do your best for your country.

  25. All politicians are given to hyperbole so I don’t much mind gubernatorial candidates calling their election campaigns “historic” when they are really just another election. Nor do I mind greater representation of minorities among the elected. Blacks and women are chronically under-represented in legislatures. If people want to donate to funds to promote minority campaigns, I don’t see how this is much different to people donating to support NRA endorsed candidates or candidates who oppose teaching evolution or whatever.

    I do think PACs in the US are out of control but that was due to a Supreme Court ruling on “free speech” applying to PACs and other “legal persons” in political campaigns. Personally, I think funding for political comment in campaigns should be restricted to real persons with votes. As things stand the rich can set up PACs to promote their vested interests and spend as much as they like on ads to influence voters and thereby candidates.

    • I agree about donations being to legal persons; however, I doubt you would see the vocal Left, adamantly anti-Citizens United, calling for the abolishing of their donations for Labor unions or “non-profits” like PP. PACs simply provided a visible vehicle for aggregating smaller contributions into ones large enough to pay for media in the same way. Of course, now you have this proliferation of PACs on both sides versus simply mega-donors on the Right vs mega-donors & Big Labor on the Left.

  26. Chip Daniels says

    Was Mr. Hughes asleep during 2016? And ever since?
    Has he not noticed how central white identity politics is to the party which controls all branches of government?

    That’s the thing about “identity” politics; You only notice it when your opponent does it.

    Its the hallmark of the dominant group to imagine that it is not an identity at all. Its merely the natural, neutral, default setting of the human race.

    • codadmin says

      Except, that’s a lie because trump has never mentioned his race….unlike Obama, who never shut up about it.

      The fascist left are liars. The fascist left project their own hate onto others.

    • Alt-right is “white identity politics”. They aren’t controlling any branches of the government as of now, but by all means keep flogging your “all politics are identity politics” hobby horse and they might yet.

  27. codadmin says

    All this highlights, if it even needed highlighting, is that the Democratic Party is now the ‘anti-white’ party in exactly the same way it used to be the ‘anti-black’ party.

    Racism is in the DNA of the Democratic party. It has always whipped up racial animosity for votes.

  28. *whites were not enslaved…*
    Just over 200 years ago, Admiral Pellew sailed into the harbor at Algiers, fought the Bey into submission, and forcibly freed the European slaves captured by North African muslims – the Barbary corsairs. Many had been taken from isolated coastal settlements, many from pirated merchant vessels. The men were worked to death, literally, pulling an oar until they died and were thrown overboard, or in forced labor on land where they were made to sleep standing up. The women were ravaged and broken. The enslaved numbered more than ten thousand. After the end of the Napoleonic wars, England and the Dutch were able to address the problem, mostly by a show of strength along the North Africa coast. Algiers was the exception because the Bey thought his position impregnable.

    Isn’t history fascinating?

    Oh, by the way, can anybody tell me why Admiral Pellew named his son “Bastard”?

  29. Nice to see the “judge black people as individuals, not a monolith” dude write a piece lumping together black candidates as a single monolithic trend and never bringing up any of their actual policy positions or local factors in their elections.

    The rank hypocrisy that Quilette engages in for the sake of “heterodoxy” is honestly astounding to me sometimes…

  30. I’ve admired Coleman Hughes’ writings for the last few Quillette offerings (and his Glen Loury and Sam Harris discussions), and find his words cut to the heart of an issue better than a 40-something suffering liberal (cis white!) writer ever could. Particularly, I enjoy the section about how we can’t truly be color-blind, but why not strive for it. I still remember being at a fairly left-wing university and seeing t-shirts everywhere being sold: “LOVE SEE NO COLOR.” We debated if there should be a period after “LOVE” or an “s” after “SEE.”

    I actually debated with my girlfriend once that this was the irony of the OJ Simpson story: He represented a movement towards a colorblind society. His popularity transcended race. That’s what he meant when he said (or supposedly said in his TV movie): “I’m not black. I’m OJ!” In the 1970s, I believe that ambiguity appealed to many Americans — white, Black, Hispanic, Asian — who looked up to him, regardless of melanin. Ironically, it was his color and the juxtaposition with the Rodney King beating and the ensuing riots that followed, that set him free. It was one racial injustice that led to another injustice in the court of law. It was payback. Color mattered.

    Ever since, and especially in the last 4 years of Obama’s presidency, the far-left and identity politics have reared their head in full force. We can’t “LOVE” and “SEE NO COLOR.” We can only see color.

    And that’s the tragedy. I don’t see today’s movements as a continuation of the civil rights movements of yesteryear. I see them as a myopic and distorted shadow.

  31. Daniel says

    This comment thread is lame. You guys are lame for arguing about racism in an article that denounces it. Give me a break!

    • Some people are colour blind, Daniel, others see colours everywhere. So, it,s all a matter of the beholders, and of the site.

  32. I remember Scott Brown’s main pitch to Massachusetts voters being that he drove a pickup truck. Sarah Palin could field-dress a moose. I remember some woman who ran for congress last time saying that she was adept at castrating hogs. I guess she probably got in. They all attend the right sort of evangelical protestant church. Generally married with children. All this in an effort to portray themselves as regular knockabout people, just like us and they understand our problems.

    With that backdrop, its not surprising that politicians would use their race as a point of difference. After all, at least race is authentic, its not something that can be faked. A politician can go back on any promise he makes, he can have three mistresses and still attend church every week, but he can’t stop being Black. No matter what happens, if Gillum is elected, he’s still going to share certain common interests with all other Black people.

    I suppose thats why its such a foundation for identity, its insoluble, its the one thing you can’t resile from.

    • Cassandra says

      ‘Race is authentic, it’s not something that can be faked’. Well, it certainly seems to be elective.

      Barack Obama was not ‘black’ , if by that you mean, he was a pure bred …..oh dear, getting deep here, let’s just say, he has a white mother, and a black father. So he was half and half. It would have been great if the mixture could have been used to heal divisions.

      Meghan Markle , duchess of Sussex, presents herself as ‘ black’ , although she has a white father and her mother would be defined by most people as mixed race. Interestingly, she chooses to straighten her naturally curly hair.

      So I can’t agree that race in many cases is or can be a defining ‘ insoluble ‘ feature. Nor should it be.

  33. AesopFan says

    “On their website, the PAC endorses the reductio ad absurdum of the concept of equity by claiming that precisely 13 percent of American politicians should be black (because blacks make up 13 percent of the general population.) They’ve even converted that percentage into raw numbers. According to their math, we need exactly 275 more blacks in state legislatures, 43 more in statewide offices, 11 more in the House of Representatives, and 10 more in the Senate. Until those numbers are reached, money will continue to flow to politicians with the right amount of melanin—including Gillum and Abrams, both of whom are supported in part by the Collective PAC.” – Hughes

    As commenters have suggested, that 13% target does not include Black Republicans (or any kind of conservatives). Have they even been counted in the current total (than which “we need more”)?

  34. Chip Daniels says

    There seem to be two types of articles at Quillette-
    Type 1: “We should avoid identity politics and focus on people as individuals;
    Type 2: “We must bravely confront the obvious differences in groups of people.”

    Which actually isn’t as absurd as it sounds.
    What Quillette is struggling with, is intersectionality, the idea that we have overlapping identities, as unique individuals, and as members of groups, and these work to define us in various ways.

    When a politician tours a farm and switches clothes to wear a Carhartt jacket and talk in folksy slang, he is signalling that he shares the identity of rural people; Just as when he proudly declares that we can say Merry Christmas again, he is signalling his identity group membership.

    The Black Chic that Mr. Hughes is talking about is no different; its how politicians tell their voting base, “I understand you.”

    • @Chip, good post, thats what I was trying to say, above. Identity politics itself is absolutely ubiquitous on all sides of politics. Politicians seldom discuss politics any more, instead we get biography-driven drivel, pictures of the wife and kids and politics as a personal journey.

      The only candidate to eschew this in recent years was Bernie Sanders. He didnt showcase his wife, talk about what values his mother instilled in him, nor did he bang on about how historic it would be to have the first Jewish president.

      • SuperLiberal says

        Bernie sanders is not innocent. He just sows class division instead of race division.He tells his supporters that rich people are the cause of all their problems

  35. Itzik Basman says

    I haven’t read the thread comments but there is no, can be no, denying the royal correctness of Hughes’s central argument.

  36. Indie Wifey says

    black culture’s faith based predominance keeps it conservative by 20th c political definition regardless of the details. what’ll be interesting, if seated, is how this balances out the current secularization of the right. obama is all the proof one needs for beholdeness on deci$ion and policy making, regardless of presentation of one’s culture/race/status

    epidemic unsustainable reproduction (75%+ unwed/un-partnered/un-supported procreation rate) among blacks still needs to be made a positive platform for change – what if held offices helped usher in this much-needed shift?

    as for the individual, specific virtue and virtuous lifestyle of any politician – i mean, really! since when? politics has a rock solid tradition of “do (be) as i say, not as i do (am). why would any one race be singled out to the actual implementation of a personal virtue rubric? imo it’s more about the delivery of virtuous prevention as yes, deception but also as inspiration to the masses

    • SuperLiberal says

      There is no unsustainable births among Blacks. Black Birth rates are declining and are below replacement level at 1.85 per couple.The reason why the out of wedlock birth rates look bad is because Black woman who are married have children at lower rates than white and Hispanic woman who are married.. The out of wedlock birthrate for single Black woman has been declining since the 80″s.

      • Are you certain of your data? Over 40 percent of all births now are illegitimate. Among Hispanics, the figure is 52 percent. Among African-Americans, 73 percent.

  37. Paul Knox says

    “As the Jim Crow era recedes further into history, the level of significance that we invest in racial identity should not be increasing; it should be decreasing.“

    It will be a fine day when America’s police departments take this sentiment on board. A fine day when their officers no longer instinctively deploy far more lethal force against black people than they do against whites, Until that day Hughes’s idealist thought experiments will be irrelevant to the political process. It is simply unreasonable to expect people not to coalesce around shared identity when it is precisely that identity which is being attacked publicly and unapologetically – in police shootings, monument disputes, neo-redlining, systemic hiring discrimination, gerrymandering and white-supremacist organizing.

    A far more interesting question to address would be why the black candidates Hughes cites believe that emphasizing their blackness will not cost them significant support among non-black voters, particularly whites. Are such voters simply responding to the freshness and dynamism of these young Democrats? Or do they too believe that electing blacks to public office sends an anti-racist message that may reverberate beyond their constituency borders?

    Lastly, however the candidates portray themselves, if Hughes were to go looking among these non-black voters, might he find something akin to the colour-blindness he wishes for, hiding in plain sight?

  38. A mode of opinion control softer than outright censorship is the current day obsession with fictional role models. For example, a racially mixed couple will be respected, liked, and socially sought after by other characters, as will a “take charge” black scholar or businessman, or a sensitive and talented homosexual, or a poor but honest and hardworking illegal alien from Mexico. On the other hand, a white person who looks askance at miscegenation or at the rapidly darkening racial situation in America — is portrayed, at best, as a despicable bigot who is reviled by the other characters, or, at worst, as a dangerous psychopath who is fascinated by firearms and is a menace to all law-abiding citizens. The white racist “gun nut,” in fact, has become a familiar stereotype on TV shows.

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